Babli Bouncer is a bubbly entertainer!

Tamannaah Bhatia does her best work in Hindi cinema so far in Babli Bouncer. Photo: Universal Communications.

Some films are meant to be just watched, enjoyed and not seen as a great piece of cinema.—which this film could have been, both in terms of the humor or the subtle and not-so-subtle messages that it delivers en route. This is not to take away from the fact that it is a decent feel-good entertainer or from Tamannaah Bhatia’s performance, where her effort to be different from what she is in real life (and so far, even in reel life) is clear and well-defined.

Tamannaah, whose Babli initially looks like a miscast in the early parts of the film, merges fluidly with her character as the story picks up, and it would not be an exaggeration to say that, at least in Hindi cinema, this is her most accomplished performance. Her expressions, especially, are exceptional.

And this is well and good, because the film has no “hero”, really! And though my heart rooted for her pub bouncer suitor Kukku (Sahil Vaid, brilliant and adorable) as her future life-partner, I could understand why there was no hint of a triumphant culmination to his one-sided love with the way the script pans out. But like Kukku says, there is hope eternal…

Babli stays on the outskirts of Delhi, and is a bad student, seemingly interested only in (over-) eating and—believe it or nuts—burping loudly. Her teacher (Yamini Das) despairs of her, and says that she will never achieve anything in life. Babli’s friend (Priyam Saha) gets a job in Delhi. Babli’s parents (Saurabh Shukla and Supriya Shukla) on the other hand want to marry her off.

Babli soon encounters her teacher’s foreign-returned son Viraj (Abhishek Bajaj) and falls for him, and when she learns that he is based in Delhi, plans to somehow reach there and let their acquaintance grow into something more.

Fate intervenes and due to an obnoxious client (Upasana Singh), the Delhi pub in which Kukku works needs a female bouncer. When their parents agree to their match, Kukku coordinates and gets Babli the job. Babli pushes herself onto Viraj, whose sensibilities are more ‘upmarket’, and he insults her.

A determined Babli decides to learn good English, pass her tenth grade and eat less and grow to the right stature. Viraj has a change of heart now but she now decides that there is more to life than romance. Soon, she stops being a mere bouncer after multiple events in her life lead to several small and bigger triumphs. And the finale too is connected to one of those ‘lucky for her’ events that happen inside the pub.

Madhur Bhandarkar goes light again after Dil To Bachcha Hai Ji way back in 2011 and goes the fluffy, superficial way in entertainment, again with a novel angle as in that film. We see only occasional flashes of the wit and barbed lines we got to see in Page 3, and that’s partly justified only, because here was a film and the unusual backdrop of a modern bar that could have lent itself to so many insights into the lighter aspects of both bouncers and the pubs.

Even in the romantic sequences with Kukku and Viraj, there was potential to make them much more humorous and/or telling. The social messages could have bene better fleshed out even as subtle homilies. But I must admit that the metro sequence between Babli and Viraj is crisply masterful. And after eons, I have seen action in a film that has no brutality or gore.

The music is substandard, and only composer Karan Malhotra’s Babli shor machaa re is remembered for a while because of its hook and Mika’s refreshing tenor that is way opposite to his rolling-words drawl. Technically, the film is alright with nothing exceptional from the scripting to the camerawork et al.

Saurabh Shukla and Ashwini Kalsekar (as the lady who hires bouncers) are— despite being essentially wasted—efficient and more in their limited roles. Saanand Verma and Sabyasachi Chakrabarty are also criminally underused. Yamini Dass makes a mark as the teacher and so does Priyam Saha as Babli’s friend.

Watch the film for its breezy humor and sense of fun. It relaxes you and neither taxes your patience nor insults your intelligence.

Rating: ***

Disney+Hotstar present Star Studios’ & Junglee Pictures’ ‘ Babli Bouncer  Produced by: Vineet Jain Directed by: Madhur Bhandarkar  Written by: Mohammed Sheikh, Madhur Bhandarkar, Amit Joshi, Aradhana Sah & Sumit Ghildiyal  Music: Karan Malhotra & Tanishk Bagchi Starring: Tamannaah Bhatia, Abhishek Bajaj, Sahil Vaid, Saurabh Shukla, Yamini Das, Yamini Das, Priyam Saha, Supriya Shukla, Upasana Singh, Ashwini Kalsekar, Saanand Verma, Khushboo Vaidya, Dimple  Bagroy, Mukesh Sharma, Mukesh Tyagi & others




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